The Government of Malaysia has just announced the Economic Transformation Program, or ETP. The ETP identifies twelve National Key Economic Areas (NKEA), one of which is Greater Kuala Lumpur.
The vision for Greater KL is to turn the nation’s capital into one of the global top-20 most livable cities, as well as having a top-20 ranking in city economic growth by 2020. The GNI (Gross National Income) share of Greater KL will be increased from approximately 30 percent of the nation’s GNI to approximately 40 percent. Total employment in this region will also increase from 2.5 million this year to 4.2 million by 2020. Total population will increase to 10 million, up from the current 6.4 million.
That is, the population of this region will increase by more than 50% within a decade!
Isn’t KL crowded enough? Don’t we complain about getting stuck in traffic gridlock everyday? Isn’t the property price already prohibitively high? I can imagine that a person who works in KL proper will have to live in Tanjung Malim, simply because he/she cannot afford a house anywhere nearer to the workplace. And the government is talking about ‘livability’!??
On the other hand, Perak, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan will be littered with ghost towns, as these states continue to lose their people to Greater KL.
There are people who think that a ‘mega city’ is essential to stimulate the economy. A property analyst, for example, is reported to say, “Cities generally generate a huge proportion of a country’s wealth.
But why don’t we look at American model instead? In the US, New York is the financial capital, while Los Angeles in the entertainment capital; Silicon Valley hosts the headquarters of Intel, Apple and Google, while Detroit is the home for auto industry; of course, Washington DC is the national capital. Economic activities do not revolve around any single mega city, but rather distributed across the nation.
In Malaysia, the Federal Government decides where the money and people should go. American cities, on the other hand, compete with each other for investment, funding and talents. Which is why any city can thrive – subject to factors beyond their control such as geographic location and climate.
I am not in favor of the Greater KL plan. The government should instead shift focus to less-developed regions of the country.